Let the Good Times Roll in Las Vegas

The city’s economy has rallied after a devastating downturn, and that’s good news for private golf communities.

By Martin Kaufmann

Ten miles west of Las Vegas, on an unpaved home lot just off one of the fairways of a Tom Fazio-designed course that will open this month, a visitor can’t help but admire the sweeping view of The Strip and wonder what it must look like when it’s all lit up at night.

Nearby, there’s the future site of a 130,000-squarefoot clubhouse – it will include 21 condo units – and all around are signs of a bustling, 555-acre construction site, though no homes have yet been built.

“If you had $6 million and wanted to build a home, this is where you would go,” said Mike Finnell, general manager of The Summit, the first Discovery Land Co. project in the Las Vegas market.

First-year sales figures at The Summit would suggest there is no shortage of people who fit that description. That’s perhaps the most dramatic sign the Las Vegas economy, which was hammered by the recession, has stormed back over the past four years. That’s good news for the city’s private golf communities, which are experiencing strong demand for real estate and new memberships.

“Golf in Las Vegas on the private side is as good as I’ve seen it in 20 years,” said Jason Cheney, general manager at Southern Highlands Golf Club, just south of downtown. “The city is on fire.”

Workers and businesses are streaming into Nevada, lured by low taxes and a business-friendly environment. Nevada’s population is growing faster than every other state, save neighboring Utah.

In 2016, 69,876 new residents poured into Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County, according to driver’slicense data. Not surprisingly, one-third – 23,292 – crossed the border from California.

“We are seeing a significant in-migration, especially with active adult buyers,” said Greg Gross, regional director of Metrostudy, a research firm. “They’re leaving California with lots of equity right now.”

Gross noted that last year there were 9,031 new home starts in Southern Nevada, which has 2.5 million residents; by contrast, Northern California’s Bay Area, with 6.5 million residents, had just 8,200 new home starts. Over the past four years the unemployment rate has dropped more than 50 percent to 5.1 percent. That has helped drive a 7.7-percent rise in prices of single-family homes over the past year, according to Gross’ research. But you still get a lot of house for your buck here.

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